Yoga Sutra 2.01 tapas, self-study, devotion to the Lord, are the yoga of action

Sūtra II.1

Tapas, self-study, devotion to the Lord, are the yoga of action

The means are listed: Tapas, self-study (svādhyāya), devotion to the Lord, are the yoga of action.

(Opponent) But tapas, self-study, and devotion to the Lord are going to be given among the observances (II.32); why are they mentioned here?

(Answer) The purpose is as has been said: to show how one of extravertive mind may become steady in yoga.

(Opponent) Not so, because that purpose is declared along with the list of observances. And do not say that it is also taught here that they thin out the taints, because that too is taught in that place. ‘From following up the yoga methods, destruction of impurity’ (II.28), and impurity means such things as the taints. As to (the other effect mentioned here namely) that they take him towards samādhi meditation, that too will be given as the result of a yoga method: ‘From devotion to the Lord, perfection in samādhi’ (IL45). So to have instruction on tapas and the other two in this place is meaningless.

(Answer) No, it has meaning. It shows that yoga practice, being the means to right vision (samyagdarśanopāya), comes before right vision. All the yoga methods are means to right vision and therefore precede it in time. From among them, some of the observances are here mentioned to illustrate the point that all the means must come first. Obviously the means must come first, but the point should thus be clear.

(Opponent) If they come before right vision, the latter should be mentioned immediately afterwards (instead of the taints, in II.3).

(Answer) No, because right vision is the direct adversary of the taints, etc., since Ignorance (the first taint) is the root of all evil, and Ignorance is destroyed when directly confronted by right vision.

(Opponent) Then one may ask: are tapas and the other two the direct opponent of Ignorance, or is that opponent right vision alone?

(Answer) In a work on right vision, first of all its field has to be stated, and that is: Puruṣa overcome by the mass of taints and karma-s and their fruition, as the man suffering from illness is the field of a medical work. Now the field and the subject of the field (viṣaya, viṣayin) should be defined by a mention immediately after tapas, etc., otherwise it will not be clear what is the field and what the subject of the field.

Moreover the teaching on the means to right vision at the beginning of this Part shows its connection with the First Part. There the yoga of the already concentrated (samāhita) mind was set out, and here it is shown how the extravertive mind, by tapas, etc., may become steady in yoga.

Now it has to be explained that the purpose of tapas and the others is samādhi meditation and thinning out the taints.

(Opponent) It is going to be said later on, ‘From devotion to the Lord, perfection in samādhi’ (II.45) and ‘From destruction of impurity by tapas, perfection of body and senses’ (II.43), so that a perfection is going to be stated for each means separately.

(Answer) Not so; what will be said there is only a statement in praise of the means, supplementary to the perfections given here, where the sūtra says, ‘to actualize samādhi and thin out the taints’ (II.2). What is said later on will be added in praise of the means.

Now the words of the sūtra are explained. The compound tapas-self-study-devotion-to-God means tapas and self-study and devotion to God. It is these which are yoga in the form of action, so this is yoga of action. Tapas and the others are actions, and as their aim is yoga, they are themselves called yoga. Yoga is the mental state of samādhi, and this yoga of action aims at that; he who practises it is a yogin.

In one without tapas, the yoga does not succeed. Tapas is taught because impurity, coloured from time without beginning by karma-s and taints and saṃskāra-complexes, a net of sense contacts, is not destroyed without tapas. And they hold that it is to be practised without the calm of the mind being upset by it.

Self study is repetition of purifying (mantra-s) like OM, or study of the scriptures on release. Devotion to the Lord is consigning all actions to the Lord the supreme teacher, or letting go their fruits.

Tapas is fasts like kŗcchra and cāndrāyana, and endurance of pairs of opposites like heat and cold; self-study (svādhyāya) is repetition of OM, and the purifying scriptures on release (mokṣa-śāstra), beginning with the Upaniṣads; devotion to the Lord is consigning actions to the Lord, the supreme teacher, or else letting go their fruits and surrendering them to the Lord.

(Opponent) What has tapas got to do with yoga? It is concerned with the body and its impurities and so on, and remote from mental concentration, whereas self-study and devotion to the Lord are relevant to yoga because they are inner means.

(Answer) This is why he says, In one without tapas, the yoga does not succeed. One will not succeed in yoga whose attitude is to cherish the body and bodily things, whose habit is to avoid discomfort of body, senses and mind, who sees the body absolutely as his self and thinks of it as very delicate. This is why tapas is taught.

Impurity, coloured from time without beginning … by saṃskāra-complexes (vāsanā), formed of complexes of saṃskāra impressions of sense contacts from time without beginning, and so variegated, a net of sense contacts; the objects of present time are a net, by which net of the present objects the mind is caught like a fish in a net; this is not destroyed without tapas. And how can there be samādhi for a mind whose impurity has not been destroyed?

And they the yogas hold that it tapas is to be practised without the calm of the mind the inner means to samādhi being upset by it. Since the goal is calmness of mind, if one should upset that by tapas, the very purpose would be frustrated.

This yoga of action is –


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